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The technology, a pilot project, debuted in Marysville, Ohio earlier this month.
An intersection in a central Ohio city is using traffic cameras to communicate with on-board vehicle sensors to warn drivers about pedestrians and runaway vehicles they can’t see, part of an effort by Honda to move toward a “zero-collision society.”
The technology, known as a “smart intersection,” debuted in Marysville, Ohio earlier this month, part of a partnership between the city and Honda. The automotive giant has a manufacturing plant and other facilities in Marysville, a city of about 24,000 located along Ohio’s 33 Smart Mobility Corridor project.
“We have such a good working relationship with Honda,” Terry Emery, Marysville city manager, said in a video describing the project. “So when they approached us about this concept, we were very receptive.”
The technology aims to improve safety for motorists and pedestrians by addressing the limits of existing on-board vehicle sensors. The project focuses specifically on safety in intersections, as collisions there account for 20 percent of traffic-related deaths and roughly 40 percent of all collisions each year, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety administration.
The intersection in Marysville has heavy pedestrian traffic and is surrounded by shops, according to Honda project engineers. Four cameras, mounted above the traffic lights at each corner, capture a “bird's-eye-view video of surrounding vehicles and pedestrian traffic out to a 300-foot range,” according to a summary of the project.
Honda’s image-processing software uses that footage to create a 360-degree image of the intersection that “classifies vehicles and other moving objects, such as pedestrians, motorcycles and emergency vehicles, and broadcasts pertinent information to surrounding vehicles” in the form of audio and visual alerts that appear on a small screen on a car’s windshield. The technology is classified, broadly, as V2X, or “vehicle-to-everything” communication.
“It’s able to sense things that you can’t see,” Jim Keller, chief engineer at Honda R&D Americas, said in the video. “It’s able to do things that our eyes can’t do, our ears can’t do, so this technology moves us beyond where any on-board sensor is today.”
If, for example, a car is running a red light, other drivers nearing the intersection receive an alert featuring an icon of a car and an audio message that a car is approaching the intersection—all before the driver can see the car.
Honda “has committed to using 200 connected vehicles” for the pilot project, some owned by Honda employees and others owned by the city.
"The city of Marysville is appreciative of our rich history with Honda of America and we are committed to our partnership with them to support their development and testing of autonomous and connected vehicles," Marysville Mayor J.R. Rausch said in a statement. "We are proud they chose Marysville to deploy this smart intersection technology here."
Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.